How many podcasts do you listen to in a week? How long does it take you to decide whether or not a podcast is working for you? How quickly do you drop a podcast that’s not worth your time? I sometimes get through four or five podcasts a day, and it can take less than an episode (sometimes just a few minutes) for me to hit delete. As a listener, your tolerance level for shoddy production, rambling, or unengaging conversation is probably similar.
But as a podcast creator, how can you prevent your podcast from joining the ranks of the unlistenable? Here are ten essential tips for creating a successful podcast—one that makes the most of your content, generates leads for your business, and gains a loyal listenership.
Ten Tips For Creating a Successful Podcast
1) Have Purpose and Passion
Be clear about your goals to find a focus for the scope and format of your show. Choose a topic that you’re passionate about so that podcasting long term is sustainable and fun, rather than a chore. Your enthusiasm will get your listeners excited, too.
2) Be Visually Memorable
Choose a clever, catchy name, and be consistent about branding across your website, podcast hosting sites, and social media channels. You want listeners to remember your podcast and be able to find you quickly on all of your platforms without any confusion along the way.
3) Take Control
Consider hosting your podcast on your own domain and have it copyrighted right from the start. You need to have complete control over the rights and the hosting of your own content.
4) Run Dress Rehearsals
It doesn’t hurt—and it can certainly help—to do a practice run before recording. You’ll get out any anxiety (and your ums and uhs) first. A rehearsal or two will increase your confidence and eloquence when the mic is on. Leave time to re-record if necessary.
If you’re recording a Skype call for your podcast, make sure to test that the connection is good (not freezing up or skipping) before recording.
5) Use the Best Equipment You Can Afford
There’s nothing worse in podcast land than being subjected to skipping or distorted sound. It puts a listener’s teeth on edge. Use high-quality mics and pop filters so that you’re starting with the cleanest audio possible. This will up your podcast’s professionalism and cut down on editing time.
6) Be Polished, But Natural
Learn the basics of audio editing so that you can clean up your audio and cut together the best of what you’ve recorded. Create “chapters” within an episode. Add musical interludes or voiceovers (beware copyright infringement, though) that fit with the tone of your show and extend your branding. Listen to your own podcast after airing to spot production elements you can improve next time.
Edit out mistakes or long pauses; writing down the timestamp of bits that need editing as you go will streamline the process. All this being said, shoot for a polished sound, but don’t obsess over perfection: some of the most charismatic moments in a podcast are spontaneous. After all, there may be many other podcasts covering similar topics, but what will keep listeners hooked is how you discuss the subject matter—your approach and personality.
7) Be a Show Note Pro
Craft an episode recap (preferably with keywords to drive traffic from search engines) on your website, letting listeners know what to expect. This gives you another opportunity to highlight your unique voice and perspective.
Show notes attached to the audio file itself are an important way to refer listeners to your website if they’ve found the episode elsewhere. Be thorough when compiling show notes. Help your listeners easily find the content you’ve referenced.
8) Be Consistent
Consistency is the key to loyal listenership. If you set a posting schedule, stick to it as closely as possible. Remember, you can always batch record several episodes at once, edit them at once, and then if you are busy the day an episode is supposed to go live, all you have to do is find time to upload it online.
If you do need to take a break, let listeners know when it’s coming up (and, ideally, when the break will be ending) beforehand so there’s no confusion as to where your podcast went.
9) Make Friends
Invite your listeners to connect with you: set up a call-in voicemail, elicit emails, and engage with comments. Listeners may have perspectives you haven’t considered, and their feedback can provide a jumping-off point for thoughtful discussion. And who doesn’t like to hear their feedback read on a favorite podcast?
Interview experts and big names in your field to attract new listeners, add authority, and give listeners (and yourself) a break from routine. Early on, mine contacts you already have for interesting subjects; with a few interviews under your belt, it will be easier to snag higher-profile interviewees.
Join a podcast network to benefit from the experience and insights (not to mention listenership) of others in your field. Think of similar podcasts as potential collaboration, rather than competition: appear as a guest on others’ shows once in a while and extend invitations to guest on yours. Not only can this liven things up, it will also help you reach new listeners, since guests and interviewees will likely promote your episode to their own followers.
10) Find Sponsors
Once you’re established, you can start monetizing your podcast with sponsorships. Pair up with sponsors in your industry who will appeal to your specific audience. Sponsorship helps podcasting pay for itself and can even bring in profit.
These ten fundamentals will get new podcasters well on their way to creating a polished, engaging, and successful podcast. If you’re an old hat at podcasting, what other tips have you learned from your experience?